Recent comments

  • KHV Virus Implicated in Lake Mohave Carp Die Off   5 years 40 weeks ago

    The common carp was introduced into America's waters starting in the early 1830s. That's a l-o-n-g time ago. Once a species has been here "long enough," we stop thinking of it as an import and think of it as a permanent part of the American scene. We eventually forget that the ring-necked pheasants in our parks were imported from Asia in the 1800s (by way of England, in many cases), that the rainbow trout in the streams of Great Smoky were originally transplanted from California, and that every single salmon caught by fishermen in Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park can be traced to non-native stock.

  • Half Dome Hiker Falls to His Death in Yosemite   5 years 40 weeks ago

    I did the hike on Monday (June 8th) -- well prepared, climbing carabiner/rope, left early to get off the top by 11:00 to advoid the weather. and was prepared to turn around if the weather got iffy. I was amazed at the number of people climbing on the outside of the cables. I'm so sad this accident happened, but not suprised.

  • KHV Virus Implicated in Lake Mohave Carp Die Off   5 years 40 weeks ago

    I thought that carp were non-native...if so, is this really a bad thing?

  • Historical Graffiti   5 years 40 weeks ago

    In the book Cities of Gold, the author (Douglas Preston) visits El Morro. Apparently at one point the park service removed all signatures from after a certain date. Unfortunately those included some pretty cool ones, one of which was supposedly William H. Bonney, AKA Billy the Kid.

  • Half Dome Hiker Falls to His Death in Yosemite   5 years 40 weeks ago

    1. Climb the cables take a harness. Get a couple of slings and a carabineers. Rent from the mountain shop. One person falls inside the cables can turn into a real disaster.
    2. Be ready for rain and thunder even on what starts out to be a hot sunny day. Afternoon thundershowers on hot days often bring lightning as well as a solid downpour. It is common.
    3. Know your shoes. Some shoes are stickier than others.
    4. The steepness of the rock can be hard to judge without experience. And even with experience it can be hard to judge.
    5. Keep in mind that all that is needed for your foot to slip is some loose stuff. A little sand sized granite. A pebble. Also, sometimes the granite will flake off under your foot. Watch out for dirt. Best thing, follow the main traffic flow - between the cables.
    6. Wet granite is slippery. Climbers head to the tent or bar in wet conditions.
    7. Be patient. Leave your superman cape at home or at least at the base.
    8. Just because one person gets outside of the cables and makes it look easy does not mean it is. They could be an expert on the granite. They could have special sticky shoes. They could be an idiot.
    9. Have a great time because it is worth it.
    10. One last thing: Don't swim above the upper fall. The current is strong. It will get you and take you over this time of year.
    11. Have a great time because it is worth it.

  • Half Dome Hiker Falls to His Death in Yosemite   5 years 40 weeks ago

    I also am not sure about more rules in Yosemite . . . more common sense would be a good thing. Many years ago our church took a group of junior high and high school kids to YNP for a weeklong work-camp. The boys wanted to climb Half Dome . . . of course when the girls heard that they also wanted to go. One adult who had experience on the route volunteered to lead and I (having no desire to go to the top) volunteered to go and walk back with anyone who we felt shouldn't make the attempt. Both the group that made the top and those who just went for the great hike had a good day. The rangers have their hands full enforcing the rules already in existence. Earlier this month I say people cooking on top of the bear lockers at Curry Village and numerous bikes on the trail to Lower Yosemite Falls . . . both a no-no according to the rules. Visitors just need to realize and respect where they are when in any NP.

  • Paraplegic Soldier Uses Courage, Determination, and 4,254 Pull-ups to Climb El Capitan   5 years 40 weeks ago

    Prof. Bob,
    What a great inspirational article. As an incomplete paraplegic myself, I can relate to the Majors feelings. I to was told I probably would never walk again, 7 years ago. Although my activities are nowhere near the Majors I will use this article in my future presentations as a Peer Councilor to other Spinal Cord Patients at the VA Hospital in Richmond, Virginia.

    Semper Fi

  • House Approves Measure to Direct North Cascades National Park to Stock Barren Lakes. What Do You Think?   5 years 40 weeks ago

    Kurt, you're mixing up the time line on commitments made by NPS officials. The promises in question were made by officials prior to formation of the park in 1969. Park Service officials were specifically asked if fish stocking would continue during the hearings leading up to formation of the park. The conflict between the state of Washington and the NCNP came about in the eighties when the park tried to renege on those promises and stop all stocking.

    Unlike the two other National Parks in WA you are required to carry a Washington State fishing license in NCNP.

    The preferred alternative in the EIS is Alternative B: continue fish stocking in 42 lakes. When the science determined that low density, non-reproducing fish do not harm native biota that had to become the preferred alternative. But it put the Park Service in a bind because the science determined that a course contrary to national policy was scientifically acceptable. So they called Alternative D (no more fish stocking) the "environmentally preferred alternative." Not because that was what the science said, but because it fit a strictly purist point of view and NPS national policy. And that's all I see in Skip Jenkins' comments.

  • Tourist Traffic At Hawaiian National Parks Way Down This Year   5 years 40 weeks ago

    Heck, outside of Honolulu (which I can't comment on because I have not visited) it was never that expensive to find lodgings in Hawaii before. I've been to the Big Island twice and Maui once and never paid more than $100 a night -- and sometimes significantly less. And that was in the so-called flush times of the middle decade.

    If any of you national parkers have not yet been to Hawaii Volcanoes, you've missed out on one of the really awesome (in the old sense of the word) sites in the system -- all the better now that it's steaming and rolling lava into the sea. Go.

  • Half Dome Hiker Falls to His Death in Yosemite   5 years 40 weeks ago

    I was packbacing in Yosemite the 1st week of June this year. Yosemite is having a very wet and cold spring. Above 8,000 ft there is still alot of snow, and lots of water. We were up near Sunrise lakes and the trails were in some places unpassable. We also got caught in two hailstorms and a T-storm.
    My point is the weather forecasts are posted everywhere in the park and if you venture up into the higher altitudes you better be prepared and you better be cautious. I have witnessed many folks in the park very unprepared for the challenges they could face there. Weather can change drastically very, very quickly. Half Dome is an iconic landmark that only the truly wise understand. It needs to be respected and one needs to be extremely humble when climbing it. We cut our trip short in the high-country because sometimes discretion truly is the better part of valor. If you plan on climbing in the high country, especially Half-Dome, just because you want to say, "I did it!" without fully understanding the challenges you may face, you are asking for trouble. If you see rude people, step-in and speak up, safety is everybody's responsibility, if folks choose not not to listen, so be it, but don't for one minute believe that someone else's behaviour will not impact you in a place as Grand as Yosemite.

  • Roped-Together Climbers Die in Fall On Mount McKinley in Denali National Park and Preserve   5 years 40 weeks ago

    I saw Dr. Swanson four times in my life and I have been so distraught over this tragedy. Why do the good have to die young?

    He saw me in November and indicated I should have a laminectomy. We were to set a date soon. However, my pain became so intense that I could not walk nor function. I went to see him on Thursday, November 13 and he took one look at me and said he was aware of what I was going through and he was just so sorry but he was leaving for Ghana Saturday morning. The more he talked to me and watched me, he apparently decided this surgery might still be doable. He called his nurse and asked her to try to get an operating room the next day and if so, she needed to cancel certain appointments in the office; she was able to make all the arrangements and I was in the OR under anesthesia when he came in and did a perfect surgery. He came to my room about 7:00 that evening and told me all was well. And it was. I had no pain AT ALL. He went to Ghana on Saturday and I saw him for followup in a week or so. I was well.

    I have never had a doctor go out of his way for me like that (and I'm 70 years old). It was so touching to see him make the decision to perform surgery despite his very busy schedule. You can be sure that I have talked about his great kindness to me to many people. He really went the extra mile. The more I read and hear about him, it seems that was his way of life. What a wonderful gift.

    I can only offer his family and friends my deepest condolences. As I indicated, I only knew him professionally for a short time but I have been in shock and pain for this young man who had to leave this world too soon.

  • Half Dome Hiker Falls to His Death in Yosemite   5 years 40 weeks ago

    I hiked Half Dome on Friday with a group. It was a great day. No rain. However, we were prepared to not make the cable ascent if it looked like rain was imminent. We even got off the top sooner than we would have otherwise, as we saw clouds forming in the distance. And, there were storms or some rain most afternoons of the entire week we camped there. We specifically didn't go up Thursday, as we thought there was too great a chance of rain that afternoon. And, we started early to be off by 1, when clouds were forming.

    3:40 is pretty late in the day to be doing the top. Unless you are camping at Little Yosemite Valley, you still have a long hike down (8.2 miles or so).

    There are plenty of signs warning you not to ascend if the rock is wet or if there is a chance of rain. Another warning about Thunderstorms as lightening strikes are dangerous up there.

    We did take the added precaution of fashioning a rope harness with a good carabiner that we could use up the cables. I have to believe that if this man had such a harness it would have saved his life. I'm not talking an expensive climbing harness, but using basic climbing knots, we rigged a harness that gives you a second chance if your feet slip and you lose your grip.

    Worth all $10 of materials. And, it doesn't slow you down. Clip and unclip at each stanchion. Some argue that it's a distraction or a hindrance. Having done it, I can only say it gives you peace of mind, and I have to believe could have saved this man.

    We don't need to take the cables down or regulate the ascent. People just need to read and research and be aware that this is an "extremely strenuous" hike just to get to the cables (that's from the NPS) and that the cable ascent is potentially fatal. When you see the masses going up and down, it is amazing more people aren't killed.

    My heart goes out to his family. It's a tragedy. Such a beautiful hike and while everyone knows it's dangerous, no one starts out thinking something will happen to them.

    I hope I don't sound critical of him. I feel terrible for him and his family. My comments here are for people making the trip. It's an incredible hike. Worth the effort. Consider spending 8 bucks on a climbing carabiner and get a length of rope and learn a couple decent knots.

    I'm no expert, but my advice (having made this hike twice) is to plan well, check the weather, be prepared not to go all the way if the weather looks iffy, and give yourself a second chance if you slip by having something to clip on to the cables with.

    My two cents.

  • Historical Graffiti   5 years 40 weeks ago

    Pioneer Register in Capitol Reef NP is another example of historic graffiti. Early settlers shot their names and dates into the smooth walls of the narrow canyon.

  • Half Dome Hiker Falls to His Death in Yosemite   5 years 40 weeks ago

    I understand the cables being placed there otherwise, people would use their own ropes and equipment. the park service is ultimately responsible for regulating traffic flow, and should have a way of discouraging people on poor weather days.

  • Half Dome Hiker Falls to His Death in Yosemite   5 years 40 weeks ago

    Perhaps we are making it too easy for people to get in over their heads. Why are there cable handrails there in the first place?

  • Half Dome Hiker Falls to His Death in Yosemite   5 years 40 weeks ago

    I hiked to Nevada Fall yesterday and two things happened: A little girl got her fingers smashed by a careless hiker on the Mist Trail who was trying to get past her and her parents and another group of people were complaining that the almost fell when a group of Japanese guys pushed their way ahead of them on the way up to the top of Nevada Falls. Wonder if something like that was the case here.................everyone is in such a hurry.

  • KHV Virus Implicated in Lake Mohave Carp Die Off   5 years 40 weeks ago

    I think it's sad. I walked fifty yards of shore line, north side of the island, Lake Havasu this morning and saw five dead and dying carp. My only hope is this is a natural course. It's frustrating there is nothing we can do . Is it ok to take a shovel down and bury them ?

  • Half Dome Hiker Falls to His Death in Yosemite   5 years 40 weeks ago

    I was there...very tragic. This gentelman was not wearing any safety equipment and was on the outside of the cables. The conditions were horrible...rain, hail and clouds which made visibilty poor and the granite very slippery. The man was playing with death and unfornatley it was his time to go. Everyone yesterday day took a chance with there life. Multiple individuals were not properly dressed. Some in shorts, t-shirts and teva sandles. When in the mountains always be prepared.

  • Roped-Together Climbers Die in Fall On Mount McKinley in Denali National Park and Preserve   5 years 40 weeks ago

    the weather on the mountain that day was perfect. light winds and clear skies.
    i was there in base camp. we wonder what happened. may they be at peace.

  • Historical Graffiti   5 years 40 weeks ago

    I think we should keep adding to these names, on a controlled basis of course, so the monument remains a living history and not a museum piece. I'd like to know what other folks think about that idea.

    Here's an essay I wrote about it:

  • National Park Lodging Concessionaires Creating Their Own Stimulus Plans   5 years 40 weeks ago

    Good God! $150-200 a night for a bare bones cabin with no amneities. That is the price of a nice hotel room for a night. Why pay such an exorbitant price?

    I guess the is limited supply and the people paid that price but no way would I do so. I rather stay in the NPS lodge , many are very nice in the west or in tent which is cheap.

    Actually the most I paid for a motel/hotel room is about $120 for vacation. I rather save the money for gas to travel farther or for entertainment. I paid less than a $100/night in the Florida Keys when I took my son to go snorkling and diving. We saved the money to go on the dive boats in Pennekamp and for food. The motel also had a pool which is normal so that was a nice way to cool down. The room is only for sleeping and I do not want to spend that much for sleeping quarters.

    Now I have paid $125/night for a room in VT but that included the lift ticket and breakfast so I thought is was a good deal.

  • Iconic Trail at Grand Canyon National Park Set for a Major Makeover   5 years 40 weeks ago

    I have been on the Bright angel, North and South Kiabab trail with and sometimes w/o mules. I admired the work it takes to build and maintain the trails. They work 10 hour days in such heat is amazing. I d love to but at 60, not. These trails are not as hard on legs and knees as Half dome and others in Yosemite evan Bryce canyon and Zion. Erosion is what made the canyon and the mules take the whinning wimps and children down and up to enjoy and learn. If too hard to walk take one of them. If you take a river trip down the canyon you ll see how hard it is to hike where the trails aren t maintained.

  • Should Anything Be Done With Angel's Landing?   5 years 40 weeks ago

    I completed this hike May 2008 with my husband. I sat down to contemplate the last leg and decided when there was an opening (very busy - midday) I would go for it. At 47 I felt I hadn't challenged myself enough through life, though thoughts of being away from my grown up children and taking risks did come into play. Head down, concentrating on my feet, I/we got there, and there were simply no words for what I felt over the next hour whilst I sat atop Angel's Landing, looking down the valley floor. It was heavenly, made a million times stronger by the fact that I had conquered a fear - a fear of the unknown. Risk taking is individual, dependent on many things, of which no National Park Service can be, or should be responsible. You take a risk the minute you sit in your car without hesitation, that risk is far greater than falling from a trail, difficult/strenuous or not. Sure footing, common sense, a reasonable amount of physical ability and courage will get you to the top of Angel's Landing, and when you arrive you will burst with pride and a sense of deep satisfaction and ponder how we came to be so priviliged to witness such beautiful sights. I am from the UK, I adore Zion with an impossible to describe passion - it gets under your skin, deep in your head and leaves you never really leaving the place behind.

  • National Park Lodging Concessionaires Creating Their Own Stimulus Plans   5 years 40 weeks ago

    Actually, the 2009 rate for a cabin without a kitchen is a little less than $150 per night plus tax that adds another $15. Ten years ago these same cabins rented for $92, so they have increased in price about 55 percent over the last decade. That is about 4 percent annually. Also, consider that cabin rental includes unlimited use of the mineral pools. We have stayed at Sol Duc four or five times and I am unfamiliar with having to take a cabin that has other guests. We did have mice in our cabin at Grant Grove in Sequoia National Park, so I guess they could be considered other guests even though they weren't paying. I would call the cabins at Sol Duc "plain" but not bare bones. They are certainly nicer than some of the cabins we have stayed in at other national parks.

  • Half Dome Hiker Falls to His Death in Yosemite   5 years 40 weeks ago

    Tragic to say the least...But hundreds of people die everyday in car accidents...Higher risk activities doesn't result with implementing more laws to cause less problems...More laws just backs a jacked up judicial system and makes things more difficult